The Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre (NAHC) hosted a great Military Vehicle Rendezvous in Nhill, Victoria on Saturday June 3rd, 2017. Not only were military vehicles present but also a selection of aircraft, classic cars and of course the NAHC centrepiece at the Nhill Aerodrome, the Avro Anson Mk.I restoration project.
Nhill in World War Two
The Nhill Aerodrome was a former RAAF Empire Air Training Scheme air base in World War Two and home to RAAF No. 2 Air Navigation School, No. 1 Operation Training Unit, No. 97 Squadron Reserve and the Air Armament and Gas School. The base operated from 1941-1946 predominately flying the Avro Anson to conduct air navigation and armaments training, including bombing training which was completed over the nearby Little Desert (a National Park since 1968). 10,000 men and women trained at Nhill during World War Two.
Mini Vehicle Parade and Tribute Ceremony
On the Saturday morning, the NAHC held a tribute ceremony at the Nhill Cenotaph for the men and women who trained at Nhill and served far and wide with the RAAF. Dignitaries included the Mayor, NAHC committee members and most importantly local World War Two veterans. Many of those who trained at Nhill gave their lives whilst defending their country, including seven airmen lost in air accidents near Nhill, who are buried in the town cemetery, and four who were based at Nhill but are buried in Mildura following a training accident near there (a memorial to these men and all those who served at Nhill can be found near the Cenotaph). Lest We Forget.
Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre
The Avro Anson Mk.I (serial number W2364) was a former Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) twin-engine maritime patrol, air crew training and liaison aircraft built in 1941 and operated in these roles and then as an instructional airframe, until sold as surplus in 1953. The ultimate aim of the NAHC is to fully restore the aircraft with functioning engines to enable it to be taxied but not flown. Steady progress has continued on the Anson since my 2015 and 2016 updates on the restoration project.
Bringing a Wirraway Home
The Nhill Military Vehicle Rendezvous was held for the very special purpose of raising funds to add to the NAHC campaign to purchase a CAC CA-16 Wirraway training and utility aircraft, another type that was operated by the RAAF at Nhill during World War Two. The aircraft in question is Wirraway A20-722 owned and restored by Borg Sorenson.
This Wirraway was delivered to the RAAF in August 1945 and struck off charge in October 1958 when it was sold off for parts. Borg recovered the remains of the airframe from a farm near Horsham (45 minutes from Nhill) in 1984 and began a long restoration in Tyabb, Victoria using parts from other Wirraway aircraft A20-512 (also recovered from near Horsham) and A20-731. The Wirraway took its first post restoration flight on June 8th, 2002.
Borg Sorenson, a patron of the NAHC, wants to retire the aircraft to Nhill as an example of Australian engineering and has offered them the aircraft for just $300,000, under the condition it does not fly again (they plan to just display it as a taxiing aircraft). I briefly spoke with Borg and his wife during this event (a really nice couple) and they are confident the NAHC will raise the funds needed. It is a great offer, as no doubt he could sell it for significantly more on the open market but such a buyer would want to fly it for sure, rather than just preserve a piece of Australian history (it could also end up overseas in such a transaction).
The good news is that the NAHC are more than half way to raising the funds through support from the local community and donations. The Nhill Military Vehicle Rendezvous had plenty of people in attendance (over 500) and the proceeds of the event will no doubt have added much-needed funds to the tally (gate admission, a prize raffle, donations, food and drink sales, money from vehicle rides and more). Lets hope it takes them well forward to bringing the Wirraway home!
Military Vehicles & Classic Cars
The Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre put on another great event and should be applauded for their efforts in keeping history alive in a small country town. Lets wish them well in their ongoing restoration of the Avro Anson and the acquisition of the CAC Wirraway.
If you can help out with a donation to the NAHC to contribute to the Wirraway Fund, all monies will be receipted and donations exceeding $2.00 AUD are tax deductible in Australia. Payments can be made as follows:
Bank transfer to Nhill Aviation Heritage Centre Inc.
National Australia Bank – BSB: 083-752
Account No: 83325-2480
Please include a reference – (Your Name) Wirraway.
Please send contact details including phone number to email@example.com
Cheque payable to NAHC Inc. Wirraway project
and mailed to PO Box 42, Nhill Vic 3418
please include your contact details, name, address,
phone number and email address (if you have one).
For further information please feel free to contact the NAHC via email: firstname.lastname@example.org